Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies

Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies

Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies

Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies

Synopsis

Everybody's Shakespeare brings the insights and wisdom of one of the finest Shakespearean scholars of our century to the task of surveying why the Bard continues to flourish in modern times. Mack treats individually seven plays-Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Cesar, and Antony and Cleopatra-and demonstrates in each case how the play has retained its vitality, complexity, and appeal.

Excerpt

This book is addressed to all or any who enjoy Shakespeare and read for pleasure. "Common Readers" we were once called, and with deserved respect. Today, in academic circles, it is alleged that our style of reader has vanished without trace. But I take this to be a self-serving illusion, witness the staggering number of books on all imaginable subjects, sometimes including even commentary on literature, sold weekly in bookstores. What has actually happened, it appears, is that Common Readers have prudently lost interest in the tribal wars and Byzantine pedantries that now balkanize professional students of literature into new-critics, new-historicists, neo-marxists, feminists, structuralists, psychoanalysts, deconstructionists, and other cells of the elect, each claiming sole possession of the truth and each purveying in its windier moments prose indecipherable (to paraphrase Polonius) and nonsense unlimited: Heidegger cannot be too heavy nor Foucault too light.

No such claim to special clairvoyance is made for the essays included here. They aim no higher than to be read as thoughtful opinion derived from long acquaintance with the plays and expressed, I like to think, without jargon. They were written to be delivered orally at various times to various audiences, normally very mixed audiences containing as many Common Readers as professionals, as many young readers as old. (Some have since been expanded.) Two of the eleven are recent. One of these, later printed privately, is now "published" for the first time. The other is quite new. The remaining nine, having appeared separately in books . . .

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